Sheldon Adelson may be the best example of the American Dream so far. Have you heard the term “rags for money”? Sheldon famously ridiculed that description because even his family could not bear the rags. He grew up in a poor neighborhood in Boston, the son of an immigrant taxi driver. As a child, Adelson worked as a paperboy to help support his struggling family. After leaving college, he earned a minimum salary as a court reporter before enlisting in the military. He went on to start 50 different businesses and career endeavors, including stance selling magazine ads, windshield de-icers, and a door-to-door toiletry salesman. Sheldon died yesterday at the age of 87. At the time of his death, he owned the largest casino empire on the planet, with vast resorts spanning the world, from Las Vegas to Macau.
Sheldon Adelson had total assets at the time of his death. $ 40 billion. At times he was one of the 15 richest people in the world. He was the richest man in Las Vegas and Nevada. Exactly how did Sheldon Adelson change himself from a poor paperboy to one of the richest people on the planet? You are about to find out…
Sheldon Adelson was born on August 4, 1933 in the Dorchester area of Boston. His father drove a taxi, his mother worked in a weaving shop. Adelson’s first job, like many American children, was a paper route. By the time he was 12 years old, the budding entrepreneur already had his own business selling toiletries.
In the 1950s, Edelson attended New York City College, studying in corporate finance, but dropped out after less than two years. After leaving college, he briefly attended a trade school, which helped him get a job as a court reporter. He then joined the army. When his obligations with the military ended, Sheldon took a job as a mortgage broker and investment advisor. In the early 1960s, he took money made on Wall Street and moved back to Boston where he invested in several businesses. By the time Sheldon reached the age of 35 in 1968, he was almost able to build a personal fortune $ 5 million ($ 33 million in today’s dollars). Unfortunately, thanks to some unsuccessful business ventures and a declining stock market, Sheldon lost his entire fortune. Twice. Thankfully, these temporary failures did not slow him down.
In the early 1970s, Sheldon made a leap to the trend of replacing apartment buildings at the Cambodium in Boston. They did very well for a while, but then the condo market took a dive. At this point, Adelson was angry and depressed. His destiny was fluctuating mentally and physically. But, despite these failures, Sheldon was still active on the hunt for the next big thing. In an effort to find a more stable income stream, he soon bought a company that published magazines. One of those journals was a computer publication called “Data Communications Users”. One day, while attending a trade show for his condo business, Sheldon had a life-changing epiphany: If the computer industry was big enough to need his own dedicated magazine, would it be better to own his own business? Can benefit from the show also?
In 1973, Sheldon and a few partners put together what was likely the world’s first computer-related trade show. Even though the event was just a minor one, Sheldon was sure that both computers and trade shows were the future. Edelson quickly liquidated his entire condo business and publishing company, to dive into the trade show business at full speed.
In 1979, Adelson launched what would be his Golden Ticket: The Computer Dealers Expo (COMDEX) Which was held at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The time was right. Not only did public computers begin to become interested in private computers, but Las Vegas itself became known as a destination to visit for a fun and controversial weekend. In other words, it was not at all difficult to entice a group of computer enthusiasts to spend a weekend party in Las Vegas for “work”. In this period, IBM, Apple, and Microsoft were beginning rapid growth, and Adelson gave them an important initial platform to showcase their products to both consumers and companies. Over the next decade, COMDEX became a eunuch for the computer industry. Comdex quickly became the largest trade show in Las Vegas, earning $ 20 million per year ($ 40 million in today’s dollars) for Sheldon.
It is important to understand how vast COMDEX is for the personal computer industry and the city of Las Vegas. I grew up in Las Vegas, and the frenzy around COMDEX in the 1980s was like the frenzy around Comic Con today. this was it Ticket Of the year to get in Las Vegas.
By the late 80s, as COMDEX was printing money, Adelson began looking for hotel property to buy in Las Vegas. This was the next logical step for someone who already owned a travel company, a notorious tradeshow and a private jet. In 1988, Edelson and his associates bought the legendary Sands Hotel and Casino, (Frank Sinatra’s former Hangout and Rat Pack) $ 128 million. Edelson redeveloped the property, adding a shopping mall (they were not ubiquitous in casinos then), and eventually a convention center that soon became the host of the annual COMDEX trade show.
During a visit to Italy in 1991, Adelson found himself fascinated by the canals and architecture of Venice. He soon dreamed of a huge hotel-casino-resort after Venice on the Las Vegas Strip.
In 1995, Adelson sold to COMDEX $ 862 million. His personal win from the sale was $ 500 million. With half a billion dollars in bank and $ 1.5 billion in credit, Sheldon shed his involvement and other business interests and built the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino. He demolished the Sands Hotel and built his dream resort which opened in 1999. The entire resort was essentially built to attract business visitors. The Venetian featured a largely enclosed conference center and was the first all-suite hotel in Las Vegas. As you can probably guess, the Venetian was a quick smash hit. Within a few years, Adelson and Las Vegas Sand Corp were operating six casinos worldwide, including a location in Macau, one of the largest buildings in the world.
Edelson is heavily involved in political funding. Formerly a Democrat, Adelson became a Republican as his wealth grew. In particular, they had to pay from high tax rates and were displeased with the influence of trade unions that they often side with and which form a large part of the Las Vegas casino workforce. He supported George W. Bush’s second presidential bid, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, contributing millions of dollars to his campaigns, including a $ 20 million gift to Romney’s super PAC. Edelson also generously donates to charitable organizations, in particular giving millions to various causes that support Israel and Jewish charitable.
Today, Las Vegas Sands Corp is the world’s largest casino company with annual revenues of over $ 11 billion. The company went public in 2004 and currently has a market cap $ 60.35 billion. Adelson remains the company’s chief executive officer and president. Today’s personal net worth is Sheldon Adelson’s, thanks to his 52.3% ownership stake in the company $ 35 billion.
But like most of Sheldon’s business ventures, even Las Vegas Sands Corp has experienced its share of ups and downs. When the economy expanded in 2008, Las Vegas tourism was forgotten. The trade show industry was particularly hard hit. The low point was March 2009 when the single share price of LVS stock was at an all-time low of $ 1.70. Exactly 16 months ago, LVS shares reached $ 140. It is a 98.8% Price drop. Adelson saw his wealth drop from $ 40 billion to less than $ 2 billion. Things got so bad that the company was literally within an inch of being forced to go bankrupt. As a last resort, Adelson invested $ 1 billion of his personal cash to save the company from financial crisis. Gambling worked and eventually LVS was recovered.
Sheldon Adelson was born into a poor family, dropped out of college, and lost large portions of his fortune more than once due to unexpected changes in the economy. By keeping his focus on the next big thing and never giving up, Adelsonum was able to earn one of the 15 greatest personal fortunes on the planet. The rags to riches of a rich American dream!